Thursday, March 02, 2006

Make the world go away

I am a neocon. I do not support the war on terror. Terror is a tactic. I support the war on utopianism. Utopianism is a belief system from which totalitarianism and terror spring.

I am alarmed that the American public shows strong evidence of having lost interest in the democracy project - if it ever had much of one to begin with. This "make the world go away" streak in the American spirit is a persistent one. And it has regrettable consequences, as in the slowness of the US to enter World War II. The cost of that error was major loss of life - Americans, Germans, Jews to name just some - that we should have learned from.

Americans are weary of the war in Iraq; a weariness as inevitable, I suppose, as the war itself was inevitably necessary (see Hitchins on the inevitability of the war). If you are human you are built to grow weary of war. And you are built to be depressed and dispirited by man's inhumanity to man as reflected in last week's bombing of the Askariya mosque and the Taliban's destruction of the colossal Bamiyan Buddhas.

The cartoon brouhaha was a public relations coup for the forces of evil, if I may coin a phrase. It reinforced in Americans the view that there is no hope that the world will change for the better. I remain in the distinct minority of Americans who believe that evil is worth confronting directly. Many Americans believe instead that if we only build a wall tall enough they can make the world go away. The ports kerfuffle is a direct manifestation.

The fortress America strategy failed against Nazi Germany. And it will fail again against more recent waves of utopian-driven totalitarianism. The war for hearts and minds is inevitable. It is merely a matter of timing, and timing matters as our experience with Hitler proves - to our everlasting shame. And as do the premature disengagements - and I mean not just militarily - from Afghanistan (leaving the country to the Taliban) and Iraq (leaving Saddam in power). Out of mind was out of sight. Evil thrived in our blind spot and it came back to bite freedom-loving people across the globe. (Patient reader, accept my apologies for the excess of metaphors.)

These thoughts are all stimulated by The End of Fukuyama - Why his latest pronouncements miss the mark :: By Christopher Hitchens. You should read the whole thing, as they say, but this is the part most striking to me:
I have my own criticisms both of my one-time Trotskyist comrades and of my temporary neocon allies, but it can be said of the former that they saw Hitlerism and Stalinism coming—and also saw that the two foes would one day fuse together—and so did what they could to sound the alarm. And it can be said of the latter (which, alas, it can't be said of the former) that they looked at Milosevic and Saddam and the Taliban and realized that they would have to be confronted sooner rather than later. Fukuyama's essay betrays a secret academic wish to be living in "normal" times once more, times that will "restore the authority of foreign policy 'realists' in the tradition of Henry Kissinger." Fat chance, Francis! Kissinger is moribund, and the memory of his failed dictator's club is too fresh to be dignified with the term "tradition." If you can't have a sense of policy, you should at least try to have a sense of history.
There's a lot of unpacking to do to fully take in that paragraph. I will leave that as an exercise to the reader. Let's just focus on two words: "dictator's club."

Kissinger's dictator's club. Better, America's dictator's club. Kissinger merely gave it an intellectual gloss. After all, the Taliban is the legacy of American policy. Saddam was for a time befriended by America. The rise of radical elements cannot be disassociated from a long history of American support for tainted regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Others will point to America's complicity in sustaining dictatorships in South America. All the result of a false hope in stability, a false hope that stability would effectively make the world beyond our borders safe to be ignored. As if dictatorship was an unfortunate byproduct of a necessary policy to make Americans safe.

Far from being an unfortunate byproduct, the free world's support for dictatorship in other corners of the world plants the seeds of its own destruction. And so does ignoring dictatorship. History ain't over.
Make the world go away
Get it off my shoulder
Say the things we used to say
And make the world, make it go away

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Anonymous Anomolous said...

Here's the question that always bugs me. How do we know when a situation warrents intervention. Take the case of Iran. The mullah regime is probably bad news for the Iranian populace, but why isn't there more of a popular uprising to oust their rulers? It happend once not to long ago, why not now? If the people being suppressed can't be bothered to resist, how are outsiders supposed to know when to intervene?

Iraq is another interesting situation. The signs that the U.S. was about to invade seemed obvious (well, at least to this American). I'm suprised that no one in Iraq could see the opportunity that killing Saddam would have been. Surely there must have been some Iraqis' whose family members were brutalized by Saddam and who wanted revenge. Or think of fame from being the guy who knocked off Saddam. And the wealth potential (there was a U.S. bounty on Saddam's head at least after the war began). And that's beside the point that maybe you'd be preventing U.S. bombs from falling your house. Maybe the whole war could have been prevented, but for some reason, there wasn't enough incentive provided to Iraqis. What's an economists view of that? Maybe in the future, non-state actors will have more influence over politics? Thoughts?

9:25 PM  

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